Laurene's European Adventure 2006/2007 travel blog

Plaque at Dachau

Door to a solitary confinement room

Looking through the bars

inside a cell

the hallway

The bunker

Main enterance to the camp

The memorial from a distance

The roll call area

The bunks used in 1933

Bunks used the later 1930's

That was the bathroom for 2000 people

Guard tower

trench built to keep prisoners from killing themselves

barbwire

part of the memorial

memorial

The years the camp was open

another part of the memorial

where all the bunk houses used to be

crematorium

sign saying showers above the gas chamber room door

statue

work will set you free sign


I went to meet the tour guide for my tour at the Haptbahnhof in the morning. Turns out he's from Ireland. I can't seem to escape the Irish anywhere!!! There was only 3 of us there for the tour, me and 2 other guys from Canada. So the 4 of set off to Dachau. A train and a bus ride away and we arrive at Dachau. Jamie (the tour guide) gives us the run down on how prisoners were brought there like cattle on trains meant for well, cattle. They were herded to the enterance and beaten and yelled at the entire time. A lot fo them wouldn't have been able to speak German so wouldn't know what was going on.

They were stripped of all their belonging and clothes and robbed of their identities. They were given uniforms and depending on your status/heritage you would be given different coloured upside down triangles. Gypsies and Romas were given their own colour. Black. Gays were given pink triangles. Jews were completely seperate as well as with priests. Political status gave you different colours as well.

We walked through the main enterance where the words "Work will set you free" are in the gate. The real gate somehow disappeared after the Americans liberated the camp. They think an american soldier took it as a souvenir. We went into the museum they have set up inside one of the main buildings and Jamie gave us some more history and background.

There was a black and white film with no sound taken from when the Americans first arrived at the camp. It shows some very horrific and gruesome images of the bodies that were found in the rail cars. These men were worked to their deaths or tortured until they were dead. They looked like skeletons.

We wentinto what was knows as the bunker building and saw all the solitary confinement rooms. There was so many of them. High profile opposing politicians and priests would be kept in there. We walked through the roll call area where every morning the men would have to stand sometimes for hours. Even if you died in the night they expected your body to make it to roll call.

We walked over to one of the guard towers. Some prisoners used to try to make a run for it past the towers but would be shot from the towers, then they built an electric fence and prisoners would run at the fences trying to kill themselves rather then stay at these camps and be killed by the SS. They then built a trench to prevent the prisoners from doing that.

We walked through a bunker house and while at the busiest years of these camps 2000 prisoners would be crammed into these bunks built for 200 people. The conditions were horrific. We walked over to the crematorium which was the hardest part of the tour to see. There was 8 ovens there. There was also a gas chamber there, althought at this camp the gas chamber was never used as it was built for, mass killings.

Above the door to the gas chamber is a sign that says in german "shower room" to fool the prisoners about to die into thinking they were going for a shower. The room after that was just an empty room but in a film we watched at the museum we were shown that same room back in 1944 which was piled full of rotting skeletal bodies. The SS made prisoners burn the bodies for them. After a few months because of the diseases around they would kill them and bring in other prisoners to continue burning bodies.

After the americans liberated the camp it was used as an american army base and then became a refugee camp. In the 1960's surviving prisoners wanted it turned into a memorial site. Although only 2 of the bunkers where the prisoners were kept are still standing it has become a memorial site.

I could go on and on about what I learnt and saw this day at this camp so if you have any questions feel free to ask me. It's amazing, we learn about all of this stuff in school but to be actually standing in the spot where this stuff happened is even more amazing. I really got a better sense of the terror that Hitler caused. Dachau was not a death camp like Auschwitz. This camp was for working and using the prisoners basically.



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